Sherman to hold forum on Happy Acres Farm

Photo of Kendra Baker

SHERMAN — A town forum on the future of Happy Acres Farm will be held Sunday afternoon at Mallory Town Hall.

The Board of Selectmen will present a reorganization plan for the farm at the 2 p.m. forum, and also seek input from townspeople about what they would like to see happen with the nearly 50-acre property.

Three years after purchasing the former dairy farm on Taber Road in 2012, the town of Sherman leased it to Full Circle Farming LLC, with the goal of creating a sustainable farm.

The farm has since offered grass-fed beef, pasture-raised eggs, organic garden veggies and educational programming, according to the Happy Acres Farm Facebook page.

“For the last several years, we have had an agreement with a tenant to live there (and) do agriculture and farming, but they’re leaving on their own accord and the town has the opportunity to make a new plan there,” First Selectman Don Lowe said.

The town’s farm reorganization plan consists of two phases, Lowe said — the first of which is “largely based on securing the property, upgrading and making it look good — and also making the farm a more public-friendly place.”

Lowe said the goal is to make the farm a “vibrant and interesting,” and he would like to see the farm that not only reflects Sherman’s agricultural history, but also “incorporates the public into its endeavors” through social activities and agricultural-related education programs.

“We will have community gardens up there; there will be hiking and picnicking allowed — and cows will remain in the pastures,” he said.

A farmstead manager would be hired to run the farm, Lowe said, and they’ll get to live on the property rent-free as part of their compensation.

Lowe said the town will be compensated through the Happy Acres Restricted Fund — the balance of which was $1,942,742 in the most recent annual town report.

Before Sunday’s town forum, taxpayers will get to vote on the allocation of $80,000 for barn repair and electrical upgrades at the farm during the Annual Town Meeting on Saturday. Money for the repairs would come from the Happy Acres Restricted Fund.

Lowe said he is “hopeful” that will pass.

“We’re painting the house and the barn in the spring, and probably painting the other buildings as well,” he said.

The goal is to get the farm to look as good as it did back when Tony Hapanowich owned it, Lowe said.

“Tony was a remarkable man and kept that place pristine,” he said.